Os­car-win­ning ac­tor Martin Lan­dau dies

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ENTERTAINMENT -

Martin Lan­dau, the chameleon-like ac­tor who gained fame as the crafty master of dis­guise in the 1960s TV show “Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble,” then capped a long and ver­sa­tile ca­reer with an

Os­car for his poignant por­trayal of ag­ing hor­ror movie star Bela Lu­gosi in 1994’s “Ed Wood,” has died. He was 89.

Lan­dau died Satur­day of un­ex­pected com­pli­ca­tions dur­ing a short stay at UCLA Med­i­cal Cen­ter, his pub­li­cist Dick Guttman said.

“Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble,” which also starred Lan­dau’s wife, Bar­bara Bain, be­came an im­me­di­ate hit upon its de­but in 1966. It re­mained on the air un­til 1973, but Lan­dau and Bain left at the end of the show’s third sea­son amid a fi­nan­cial dis­pute with the pro­duc­ers. They starred in the Bri­tish-made sci-fi se­ries “Space: 1999” from 1975 to 1977.

Lan­dau might have been a su­per­star but for a role he didn’t play — the pointy-eared star­ship En­ter­prise sci­ence of­fi­cer, Mr. Spock. “Star Trek” cre­ator Gene Ro­den­berry had of­fered him the half-Vul­can, half-hu­man who at­tempts to rid his life of all emo­tion. Lan­dau turned it down.

“A char­ac­ter without emo­tions would have driven me crazy; I would have had to be lobotomized,” he ex­plained in 2001. In­stead, he chose “Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble,” and Leonard Ni­moy went on to ev­er­last­ing fame as Spock.

Iron­i­cally, Ni­moy re­placed Lan­dau on “Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble.”

Af­ter a brief but im­pres­sive Broadway ca­reer, Lan­dau had made an aus­pi­cious film de­but in the late 1950s, play­ing a soldier in “Pork Chop Hill” and a villain in the Al­fred Hitch­cock clas­sic “North By North­west.”

He en­joyed far less suc­cess af­ter “Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble,” how­ever, find­ing he had been type­cast as Rollin Hand, the top-se­cret mis­sion team’s dis­guise wiz­ard.

He be­gan to find re­demp­tion with a sym­pa­thetic role in “Tucker: The Man and his Dream,” the 1988 Fran­cis Ford Cop­pola film that gar­nered Lan­dau his first Os­car nom­i­na­tion.

He was nom­i­nated again the next year for his turn as the adul­ter­ous hus­band in Woody Allen’s “Crimes and Mis­de­meanours.”

His third nom­i­na­tion was for “Ed Wood,” director Tim Bur­ton’s af­fec­tion­ate trib­ute to a man widely viewed as the worst Hol­ly­wood film­maker of all time.


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